Washington — In closing arguments Friday, prosecutors argued that Oath Keepers leader Stuart Rhodes and four of his subordinates made a historic decision to oppose a peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden on Jan. 6, 2021, saying “any Using the method, “attempts to preserve centuries of legal presidential transition.
As the seven-week trial draws to a close, prosecutor Catherine Rakoczy urged the jury not to be “insensitive” to the defendants’ claims of civil war, violent resistance and armed rebellion.
Rhodes and co-defendants Kelly Maggs, Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell are charged with conspiracy to commit treason, the most serious crime so far in the sprawling Justice Department investigation.Attack on the US Capitol. All have pleaded not guilty, and their defense attorneys have worked to dismiss the arsonist and sometimes violent messages and recordings as mere rhetoric rather than revolutionary calls. As a to action.
In a Washington, D.C., courtroom, Rakosi began his closing argument with words that Rhodes allegedly gave to his followers days after the 2020 presidential election: “We’re not going to get through this without a civil war.” have been.” That said, it supported the government’s theory that the defendants were the “leaders” of a conspiracy to oppose the peaceful transfer of power, and that the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol was a means to that end.
The alleged conspiracy, he argued, arose out of the defendants’ “sense of privilege that led to frustration, then anger, and then violence.”
“This is the story of this conspiracy,” Rakoczy said Friday, accusing the defendants of thinking they were “above the law.”
Rhodes, one of the three defendants whoHe alleged that during the trial, he was the “architect” of the scheme. And he reminded the jury of open letters they saw weeks ago that Rhodes is accused of sending to Trump, urging the then-president to try to stay in power. And subsequent talks called for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, a centuries-old law that called for armed defense of a government by militia to stay in power.
The defendants argued that Trump never invoked the law, and that his actions did not constitute a conspiracy because he did not plan to enter the Capitol building that day. Rhodes is not accused of entering the building and testified that breaching the building was not part of the mission.
In a closing argument on behalf of Rhodes, defense attorney James LeBright said the government had not shown evidence of a “meeting of the minds” between the defendants in which they discussed overthrowing the government and storming the Capitol.
“There was no meeting of the minds to conspire, that didn’t happen,” Bright said.
Rakosi told the jury that the far-right group, which is accused of plotting a coup, was using the capital riots to advance its mission to oppose the government.
Prosecutors said Maggs, who allegedly called for “massacres” in messages dating back to Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., and Watkins were said to be leaders of certain factions of the Oath Keepers. And together with Harrelson and other conspirators, they breached the Capitol building and eventually interfered with law enforcement.
During this, Watkins admitted to entering the building and said she regrets asking other rioters to “push” past police, even if it meant she was criminally culpable. She said she did not intend and did not conspire to disrupt Congress, but she still believes the 2020 elections were not “free or fair”.
And Caldwell, prosecutors said, worked in a hotel room in Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., to help create the Quick Reaction Force (QRF), which allegedly collected weapons and supplies. was helping others, should they be called upon to fight. The defendants are not charged with weapons offenses and have argued that they did not bring weapons into the district because they were trying to be legal.
CaldwellHis calls for violence – including talk of civil war and “hanging some traitors” – leading up to January 6 were not serious and were meant as jokes.
Rakosi argued on Friday that his claims were “purely ridiculous, telling the jury,” it was not rhetoric. It wasn’t grumbling and grumbling. It was deadly serious.”
“These defendants think they’ve anointed themselves to stand up for what they think is the original version of the law,” Rakoczy said, later adding that “they ransacked the Capitol. saw, they threw their bodies for this cause, and they took it.”
By showing the jury a painting that hung in the Capitol depicting the abdication of George Washington in 1787, Rakoczy sought to invoke the historical gravity of the Capitol attack.
He argued that the defendants committed the alleged crimes, “in favor of coercion, violence, and an unshakable desire to do the elections their way,” an effort that he said continued after January 6.
Bright, Rhodes’ defense attorney, contended that the mission of the Oath Keepers was not to promote violence, but to prevent it by volunteering in violent demonstrations to protect property and people in hurricane relief efforts.
“He associated himself legally for 13 years,” Bright said, adding that he has a “history” of attention to detail and the law. And as the 2020 election approached, he had a “deep fear” for the country’s future, which ultimately drove him to Washington, DC.
Bright said the Justice Department did not meet its burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the “big three” felony charge: “No plan to attack the Capitol … no plan to breach the Rotunda.” No… there is no plan to stop voter verification,” he argued.
He admitted that the defendants engaged in “horribly heated rhetoric” and “bombshelling”.
“You have to choose how you look at it,” he urged the jurors, but “lives are at stake. Human lives.”
In his closing arguments, Woodward showed a video of Maggs leaving the Capitol and argued that he was helping people move out of the building — not trying to block the confirmation of the election.
Woodward also argued that the government failed to present evidence of the Oath Keeper’s plans to enter the Capitol building. Woodward cited testimony that found no messages in the tens of thousands that provided a plan to go into the Capitol building and stop the 2020 election from being certified. They didn’t deny that Magus had entered the building, but they did deny that there was a conspiracy behind it.
The jury did not have to agree with the defendants but “debate is encouraged in our democracy,” Woodward said. “They may be wrong, but they have every right to have their say.”